Gideon’s Way – The Perfect Crime

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Todd (Patrick Allen) and Casey (Patrick Bedford) have formed a profitable criminal partnership.  The mysterious Todd is a well-connected man who always seems to know when wealthy marks will be away from home – but he needs the skills of Casey, a noted safebreaker.

They’re very different characters though.   On their latest job, Todd thinks nothing of clubbing down an au pair who unexpectedly returns to the flat they’re burgling (with an off-hand comment of “stupid cow”).  This perturbs Casey, who hates violence and recoils at the sight of blood.  Casey’s wife, Sandra (Jean Marsh), urges him to cut his ties with Todd, but as he’s earning good money he’s prepared to ignore his scruples.

When the au pair dies and Casey is arrested on another job, things look bleak for him.  But a wily lawyer sees a chance to blame Casey’s self-inflicted injury on police brutality – with Gideon in the frame …..

The incomparable Patrick Allen – possessor of the type of voice I could listen to all day – is in fine form as Todd.  By night he’s a violent criminal, but by day Todd’s a respectable stockbroker, moving in the best of circles with his cultured and beautiful girlfriend, Anne Beaumont (Ann Lynn).  Lynn’s one of those actresses who, if you love television of this era, you can’t help coming across.  Sergeant Cork, Public Eye and Minder are just three series graced with her presence.

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Elsewhere, Jean Marsh is a vivid screen presence as Sandra.  Following her husband’s arrest, Sandra attempts to extract the money he’s owed from Todd, with fatal results.  The moment of Sandra’s murder is nicely done.  As so often in GW, we don’t actually see the fatal blow struck (the camera is elsewhere at the time) but the quick cuts – and Todd’s expression afterwards – still make it a chilling moment.

It’s an amusing character touch that whenever Todd’s in criminal mode he wears a pair of dark glasses.  Even when indoors!  How can he see what’s going on?!   It’s also noticeable how he’s able to edit his personality – when spending time with his girlfriend and their wealthy friends he’s urbane and pleasant.  But when he’s discussing the next job with Casey he’s blunt and business-like, seemingly uncaring that the au pair is hovering close to death.  When confronted by Sandra he explains why he’s embarked on a life of crime.  “I do it because stocks and shares are pedestrian, dull, inanimate. When I’m on a job with Casey I’m alive, quick turning in my guts of fear, excitement, even sensuality. There’s no rational explanation.”

It’s jarring to see Gideon accused of hitting a suspect.  Jack Regan maybe, but not the avuncular George Gideon.  This feels like a theme drawn more from the books, which tended to paint Gideon’s world in shades of grey, as opposed to the resolutely black and white world of the television series.   In Creasey’s novels, Gideon had to traverse a more morally corrupt landscape, where even his own colleagues couldn’t always be counted upon.  But whilst the series caught the flavour of the books they also tended to rub off the sharp edges (although the ending of this episode is rather bleak).  However I’m glad they never carried over the practice of having Gideon referred to by his colleagues as “Gee Gee”.  It wouldn’t seem right to me for John Gregson to be referred to that way!

There are some series which I’m glad to have, but don’t tend to get rewatched that often.  Gideon’s Way isn’t one of them.  Gregson and Davion form a solid partnership, the scripts are generally very strong, the guest casts can rarely be faulted and the extensive location filming in and around London is yet another reason why this is a programme to be cherished.  Possibly because it didn’t fit the usual template for ITC filmed series, it’s never had the profile of the likes of The Saint, but Gideon’s Way is an endlessly entertaining series that I can come back to time and time again.

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6 thoughts on “Gideon’s Way – The Perfect Crime

  1. Your last Gideon post! I’d wanted to respond when you’d first posted it, but this Ramadan seems to take up more of my time and energy as we get through it, but now that we’ve mostly finished moving house, I wanted to post to say how I enjoyed the whole series of posts you’ve done on this, and what an episode to end on! Patrick Allen really does have such a wonderful, masterful voice, and he’s wonderful in this too (good point about the funny thing with the sunglasses though haha!) – I also think his naming of ‘Spender’ is really fun. And yes to Ann Lynn too (she’s lovely in an episode of the Saint as well as The Champions too). I also thought the rather awkward/unhappy story of the Caseys, some nice character and dialogue are given to them both.

    I really enjoyed what you wrote about how unique the show is, in many ways, compared to its ITC peers, and how it really does stand many cherished rewatches, for all its merits despite small things, and really despite its comparatively shorter life – I haven’t read the books, and found your comparisons between the two fascinating (particularly the difference between the ‘moral landscapes’ of the books vs the series, something I love about the series especially), although I will say that it turns out I’ve read short John Creasey stories about Gideon, long before I’d known about the show! I hadn’t made the connection at all and had forgotten about them, not remembering even after watching the show, but your mentioning of ‘Gee Gee’ did it, I remembered then ahaha – certainly not a fit for John Gregson!!

    Have been reading your latest posts too in on my evenings after unpacking, enjoying these as well, though I’ve not seen The Glory Boys/ – hope all is well!!

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  2. Sounds like you’ve been busy lately! I’m glad that you’ve been able to take something from my GW posts, hopefully I’ve been able to communicate a few reasons why it’s a series that deserves to be cherished. A pity that, due to the fact it’s B&W, it’ll probably never get a re-run on any station in the UK (ITV4, for example, are now rescreening The Saint, but unsurprisingly it’s the colour episodes – if they show the B&W ones I’ll have to buy a hat to eat!)

    But at least it’s available on DVD and hopefully a few more curious people will stumble across it. It was a good series to write about and another notch (following Return of the Saint last year) on my ITC rewatch. Maybe I’ll try The Champions next – a series I loved when I first saw it in reruns during the mid eighties but one I’ve found harder to get back into in more recent years. I see that you’ve mentioned on your blog that you’re rewatching the series for a review, so I look forward to reading your comments as and when you have the time to post about it 🙂

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    • Yes! Now that Ramadan is over we’re spending more time unpacking and repairing and so on, but I admit my moments of rest were spent happily reading your GW posts (and in fact, to celebrate the TV set being connected again a few days ago, I treated my dad to an episode, ‘Big Fish/Little Fish’!) I absolutely think you’ve done a good job of sharing why it still deserves to be watched again and again (and yes, you may well have encouraged some new viewers after all!), though I agree about the unlikelihood of it being rebroadcast on TV – having The Saint on in colour is an accurate example of what stays on compared to what tends to be left by the wayside (the occasional Dad’s Army episode shows up on our overseas BBC for instance, but they’re usually the same one or two from the last two series), but at least some Saint is better than no Saint I suppose! Perhaps one day we’ll both be lucky and good old B&W television will be back somewhere – and maybe you will have to buy that hat 🙂

      I have indeed mentioned The Champions as my rewatch for review, as you say! Another fantastic series that to my mind was also, like GW, too sadly short-lived, really very different to its peer shows in many ways, but I’m very excited to hopefully write about some episodes really soon! I finally have a quiet half-of-a-room to myself where we’ve moved, and so I’m hoping in the weeks to come I will be able to find myself a decent writing routine and come back to the blog more frequently/regularly, I do hope you will look in when I’ve gotten back into it! I, in the meantime, am still very much enjoying yours 🙂

      Hope all is well!!

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      • Good to hear you’ve got a television set again. Being deprived of one for too long doesn’t bear thinking about ….

        I’ll await your Champions post with interest! It’s on my rewatch pile but I’m in a black and white mood at present, so Espionage (another ITC series, but tonally very different) is keeping me occupied at present

        I’ve recently spun the Champions commentaries with the three leads and rewatched the reunion documentary, both of which are very entertaining. The obvious rapport they shared was certainly a plus point in the show’s favour – even if the scripts sometimes didn’t always utilise this as well as they could have done.

        Give me a shout when you’ve a new post up and I’ll be happy to share a link to it here 🙂

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  3. Yes, it definitely made the routines feel more – settled (particularly when I missed my regular happy dose of vintage TV in the middle of all the unpacking!)

    Thanks so much! I know what you mean about being in a B&W mood (in fact it’s what keeping me from finishing the Champions this time around ahaha, as I’m revisiting McHale’s Navy and The Army Game!), and thanks to your posts, Espionage has been added to my spreadsheet. I agree that the rapport of the three leads was certainly something special, and while sometimes used to excellent effect on the show, was certainly underused, particularly when it could have been a strength on plots or other things – I loved the reunion documentary too, now I’ll have to find those commentaries!

    You’ll definitely be the first to know when I’ve finally got something up! Will be reading yours as we keep managing house the rest of the summer 🙂

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